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White House Communications Director Hope Hicks to step down. President Trump takes to Twitter to excoriate Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to launch his own investigation into alleged surveillance abuses. Judge in Charlottesville orders black tarps to be removed from Confederate statues. Public libraries are mobilized in the fight against opioids. Jennifer Egan takes office succeeding Andrew Solomon as president of PEN America. Unification of PEN America and the former Los Angeles-based PEN Center USA is complete, creating single national organization under PEN America name. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


Hope Hicks: Close Trump Aide and White House Communications Chief Resigns
Hope Hicks, key witness in whether the Trump team colluded with Russia, is to step down after testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee and admitting to the panel that she told “white lies” for the president.

Trump Calls Sessions’s Handling of Surveillance Abuse Allegations ‘Disgraceful’
Mr. Trump excoriated Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not ordering his own investigation into the handling of the Russia inquiry during its early months, calling his attorney general “DISGRACEFUL” in a lacerating Twitter post.

Judge Orders Tarps Removed from Confederate Statues in Charlottesville
Judge orders black shrouds that covered two Confederate Statures in Charlottesville, the site of a deadly white nationalist rally last summer, to be removed, noting that the public has been unable to view the monuments for months.

The Opioid Epidemic is So Bad that Librarians are Learning How to Treat Overdoses
In the past two years, libraries in Denver, San Francisco, suburban Chicago and Reading, have become the site of fatal overdoses. Library staff members have begun taking on the role of first responder in drug overdoses.

Novelist Jennifer Egan Named New President of PEN America
Jennifer Egan will succeed fellow author Andrew Solomon, who served three years as president. “I’ve been a member of PEN America since the early 1990’s… [and have] always felt privileged to write in a country where the notion of being censored, or suppressed, or punished for one’s words, was an abstraction.”


Ce*sored! China Bans Letter N (Briefly) from Internet as Xi Jinping Extends Grip on Power
Amid fallout from the decision to allow Xi to be president for life, censors crack down on letters, phrases, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The Communist party has painted the move as an expression of overwhelming support for China’s leader.

Ján Kuciak’s Last Story: Italian Mafia’s Tentacles Reach into Slovak Politics
Read the final, unfinished draft of the investigative article, mapping how the ‘Ndrangheta have settled in Slovakia, that journalist Ján Kuciak was working on before he and his partner Martina Kušnírová were killed last week.

Khadija Ismayilova Urges the UNHRC to Fight Corrupt Politicians
During the UNHRC 37th session, investigative reporter and activist Khadija Ismayilova asked the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Wednesday why it was tolerating corrupt politicians in its ranks.

Egypt’s Prosecutor Urges Action Against ‘False News’
Nabil Sadek, Egypt’s public prosecutor, urges legal action against media outlets found to be publishing “false news, statements and rumors”. The statement follows strong criticism of authorities blocking scores of local news sites.

Some Holocaust Speech is Now a Crime in Poland
A law that makes it a criminal offense to accuse the Polish nation of perpetrating crimes committed by Nazi Germany came into effect Thursday. Polish authorities insist the law is intended to protect the country’s international reputation.

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